National awards in tribute to courage of two Claires
Two courageous women who captured the hearts of the nation have been acknowledged as truly great role models.
Claire Squires and Claire Lomas were named winners at the Inspiration Awards for Women on Wednesday night.
Claire Squires, the 30-year-old hairdresser who collapsed and died near the finish of the London marathon, was honoured with the top award, being named winner of the "most inspirational" category.
Claire Lomas, who was paralysed from the chest down in a horse-riding accident five years ago, was named most inspirational fund-raiser.
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The star-studded awards ceremony at the plush Cadogan Hall in London's Belgravia featured music by Beverley Knight, X-Factor winner Matt Cardle and classical singing group Blake.
Claire Squires, of Great Bowden, was nominated posthumously for the help and support she gave to friends and neighbours, and her charity fund-raising.
Within days of her death in April, more than 80,000 people, moved by the news of the tragedy, had made pledges topping £1 million on Claire's Just Giving page, which she had set up to raise cash for the Samaritans.
Her mother, Cilla, and her three sisters attended the ceremony event to collect the award.
Cilla, of North Kilworth, told the Mercury: "I was in two minds about going but I am glad we did.
"It was the kind of event Claire would have loved. There was plenty of glamour."
Claire's sisters Maxine Holmes, Nicola Holmes and Penny Squires, received the award on her behalf from Countdown's Rachel Riley, and Joanna Hansford, from Mayfair stylists Jo Hansford.
Penny said: "It was wonderful. It was a bit of a blur when we went up to collect the award. There were so many famous and deserving people there. We were so proud of Claire."
Claire Lomas, 32, of Eye Kettleby, near Melton, said she was shocked to win the fund-raising category.
With the aid of a robotic suit, Claire walked the London Marathon route over 17 days in April, raising more than £200,000 for the charity Spinal Research.
She was presented with her award by Olympic shooting gold medallist Peter Wilson and rugby legend Martin Offiah.
"I was shocked to have won," said Claire. "It was an amazing evening, so glamorous. There were so many famous people there."
Members of the public had been asked to nominate women who had inspired them.
Six people were shortlisted in each of the eight categories.
A quarter of the marks came from the public, with marks from a judging panel accounting for the rest.
Previously, winners of the awards include Lady GaGa, Annie Lennox and Helen Mirren.
A spokesperson for the award organisers said: "The Inspiration Awards for Women celebrates the achievements of remarkable women who inspire those around them, either through the media or through their astounding achievements in their everyday lives.
"The awards ceremony is an uplifting and emotional event, where stars and women from every walk of life are celebrated equally.
"The event also raises money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer."